Record Coral Damage
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Pak Authority announced that coral reefs throughout Queensland are suffeing some of the worst damage in recorded history. High water temperatures, from El Nino and global warming, and massive freshwate runoff from inland rainstorms ave resulted in extensive coral bleaching, a condition that causes the marine animals to weaken and possibly die. It occurs when the coral animals become stressed by environmental factors and expel algae, which normally gives them their bright colors and helps them feed. the coral may survive for brief periods without the algae, but a prolonged absence can lead to death.
The volcanic Izu Peninsula to the southwest of Tokyo was shaken by a swarm of more than 1, 179 minor earthquakes. While most of the tremors were too weak to be felt, few stronger one registered magnitudes as high as 4.3
Earth movements were also felt in others parts of Japan, New Zealand, central Chile, central and southern Mexico, Colorado and southeastern Ontario.
A howling dust storm whipped up by gale-force winds lashed China’s northwestern region of Xinijang, killing at least 12 people. The storm knocked out power and water supplies as it swept through 10 cities and districts. In Tacheng city, flying rocks shattered windows as the high winds downed trees. The cyclonic storm wet on to lash Mongolia, where wind damage made more than 1,000 people homeless. Officials said that nearly 9,000 head of cattle were killed by the storm in five western provinces.
Mexico’s famed Popocatepetl volcano spewed out a 2.5 - mile -high cloud of ash and smoke over the suburbs of Mexico City during two days of eruptions. Molten rocks also shot out of the volcano, setting trees on fire along the mountain’s flanks. A powerful rumbling from deep within Popocatepetl severely shook windows in the area. People living along the slopes of the mountain fled their homes in panic, and authorities ordered area schools closed until the eruptions subside. Toxic sulfuric fumes from the eruptions blew through the streets of Puebla.
One of the more bizarre effects of the ongoing El Nino ocean warming phenomenon is a sudden invasion of grasshoppers in parts of the Desert Southwest. Swarms of pale-wing grasshoppers thrived in this year’s moist and mild winter along the lower reaches of the Colorado River. Millions of them have descended on the cities of Laughlin, Nev., and Lake Havasu City, Ariz., causing traffic accidents when motorists slide across insect-covered roads. Street sweepers were dispatched to vacuum up masses of the hoppers and to haul them off to a landfill. Officials believe the insects will be swarming over the area until midsummer.
Sources: U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.